Win a copy of Kelly Irvin’s new book, A Plain Love Song

Happy Monday, readers! Today we welcome author Kelly Irvin to Home Thoughts. Stay tuned to win a free copy of Kelly’s latest release, A Plain Love SongPlain Love Song AFirst, here’s a little about the story: Adah Knepp wants nothing more than to make music. It’s all she’s ever desired—to sing and play the guitar and write her own songs. That’s a dream that will never come true in the confines of her strict Amish community. But then she meets Jackson Hart, and suddenly she sees the chance for a different kind of life…a real stage, a real guitar, and a real opportunity to sing her songs to a real audience! But pursuing her dreams means turning her back on her faith, her family, and her community—and saying goodbye to Matthew, the gentle Amish farmer she can’t get out of her mind. Is it worth giving up the only home she’s ever known to pursue her dreams?

Kelly Irvin is a Kansas native and has been writing professionally for 30 years. She and her husband, Tim, make their home in Texas. They have two children, three cats, and a tankful of fish.  A public relations professional, Kelly is also the author of two romantic suspense novels and writes short stories in her spare time.

 

 

KellyFinal1 What are you working on now?

I’ve just turned in The Bishop’s Son to my publisher, Zondervan. It’s the second book in a new series, The Amish of Bee County, set in Bee County, Texas, where a tiny Amish District is located, the only one in the state. The galleys for the first book, The Beekeeper’s Son, arrived at the house today so I’ll be taking one last look at that book, which releases in January 2015. That leaves writing the third book in the series. I’m still doing a lot of thinking and only a little writing on that one!

Where can readers find A Plain Love Song? http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Love-Song-Hope-Amish/dp/0736954988/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399148095&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Plain+Love+Song+by+Kelly+Irvin

To be entered in a drawing for a free signed copy, please leave your answer to this question: Why do you think most Amish districts prohibit musical instruments?

Here’s where you can find Kelly:

http://www.kellyirvin.com

Follow me on Twitter

Drawing in one week, readers. Hope you’re having a great August!  ~ Mary

Writing Process Blog Tour

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, readers,  I hope you’ll join me in thanking all the men and women in the US. military for their service to their country!

clipstonpublicityRecently, I was invited to participate in a blog tour by my good friend, Amy Clipston. Amy writes awesome romantic fiction set in the Amish community for Zondervan and Harper Collins and has won numerous awards. Amy’s latest book is A Mother’s Secret. She asked me to share my answers to four questions that authors from all over have been answering in this Writing Process Blog Tour.  Here are my answers:

What am I working on at the moment? Right now, I’m putting the last touches on book two of the Civil War Heroines Series, called The Lady and the Officer for Harvest House Publishers. While serving as a nurse in Gettysburg, Madeline Howard saves the life of a colonel in the Confederate Home Guard. Even though Maddy’s heart belongs to Union General James Downing, Colonel Haywood never forgets the beautiful nurse. When their paths cross in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, he’s determined to win her heart. Maddy has been busy eavesdropping on army officers and war department officials in her aunt’s palatial home. When she hears plans for Confederate attacks in northern Virginia, she passes the information along to Union officers, betraying the trust of her family and friends. Two men are in love with her. Will Maddy’s choices bring devastation on those she loves?Lady and the Officer, The

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Most fictional stories set during periods of political unrest assume a particular posture. Although my lead heroine will share my anti-slavery convictions, I attempt to portray the complexity of social issues. Usually there are no truly “good guys” by the time a war is over, no matter how well-intended people’s original motivations.

Why do I write what I do? I love to create stories about cultures I admire (I’ve written a dozen books set in Amish communities throughout the United States.) and romances set during turbulent periods of America’s past. I’ve always loved history and the way it has shaped laws governing us today. And love does have a way of surviving even during wartime, no matter how dire the circumstances.

How does my writing process work? I travel to the area where I plan to set a story to get details only available in person. In the case of historical novels, I research several times because there is always so much to learn. But in the end, I still end up making a few mistakes because so much information is ambiguous or incorrect. I’ve even seen two different accounts as to who won a particular battle at Civil War interpretive centers.

The Lady and the Officer is available for pre-book at Christianbook.com.

http://www.christianbook.com/lady-the-officer-civil-war-heroines/mary-ellis/9780736950541/pd/950541

I hope you’ll drop by next week’s blog tour participants: Kathleen Fuller and Carole Brown.

Kathleen Fuller writes lovely Amish romances and historical romance for Harper Collins. http://www.kathleenfuller.com/

Carole Brown writes for Lighthouse of the Carolinas. Her book, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman was nominated for a Selah Award. http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Drop by an see what these great authors have to say! Have a great Memorial Day weekend, readers. ~ Mary

 

 

You can go back again…with plenty of caffeine

Happy Thursday readers, a frequent question writers are asked when they’re first published: Is this the first book you ever wrote? Often on television talk shows we hear about so-and-so’s first book hitting one of the coveted bestseller lists. Although there are exceptions to the rule (J.K. Rowling comes to mind….) in most cases, the book in question is the first published work. The writer might have penned any number of novels before creating a story that resonated with an editor or agent, and then finally with readers. For me personally, I was first published in romantic suspense set in the South. Then I happily changed genres to Amish romances since I’d been fascinated with their simple lives for years. After twelve novels set in the Amish world I was ready for another change, but didn’t wish to venture too far from romance. Everyone falls in love, right? Including people in bygone eras whose lives were simpler than how we live now.

So I decided to dig out two historical romances I’d written first, a dozen years ago. “Should you do that?” asked my practical husband. “Can you go back to something you wrote before you learned all the ‘rules’ and developed your voice?” He was giving me the same look like the time I announced, “I think we should retire in Costa Rica where the cost of living is less.” I assured him that I could do this. After all, I loved those stories when I created them, even though my agent said no one was interested in Civil War fiction at the time. The Quaker and the Rebel, first in the Civil War Heroines series, was my first baby. I dusted her off and breathed in new life with better plotting, sentence structure, and inner conflicts, and reduced redundancies and unnecessary verbiage. Bottom line? The rewrite took twice as long then if I burned the manuscript and started from scratch, and required more high-test coffee than I drank in four years of college.Quaker and the Rebel, The

I know what you’re thinking: Hubby was right. But I ended up preserving every sweet nuance and historical detail that had originally intrigued me, in an easy-to-read structure and format. The best of both worlds! Would I do it again if I discovered two more novels waiting to be revived in my sock drawer? Only if I’m sitting on the beach in Costa Rica, sipping a cool drink, with plenty of time on my hands.

The second book in the series, The Lady and the Officer, releases this summer from Harvest House Publishers.Lady and the Officer, The

Happy reading….Mary

Anybody up for a blog hop about works in progress?

Just for fun, a bunch of authors are answering questions about our latest WIPs (works-in-progress), and here are my quick quips. Be sure to click the links at the bottom to keep hopping on to see what’s next!

What is the working title of your book? A Little Bit of CharmLittle Bit of Charm, A

Where did the idea come from for the book? I read a non-fiction account about the Old Order Amish moving from Lancaster, PA due to the exorbitant price of farmland. I was intrigued by the smaller, more remote communities they were moving into and what major differences they would find. So I traveled to Maine, Missouri and Kentucky to research new districts. This final book in the New Beginnings series is set in the Blue Grass State.

What genre does your book fall under? Inspirational Amish Romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I would choose Leonardo DiCaprio to play my tender-hearted horse trainer Jake Brady and the lovely Reese Witherspoon for my blond heroine caught between two worlds.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Rachel King wants nothing more than to work with horses, but when her handsome boss sweeps her off her feet, she begins to doubt everything in life, including her faith.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My book will be represented by the Seymour Agency and published by Harvest House.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It takes me four and a half months to write the first draft, but I edit as I go along. So the manuscript only needs a thorough going-over when it’s finished. The final edit takes about two weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I would compare it to any books by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Kelly Irvin or Amy Clipston.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I have been fascinated by the Amish since I was a child. When I decided to write solely Christian fiction, writing about their culture was a natural choice. For this particular book, the counties of Barren, Hart and Casey, Kentucky inspired plenty of plot twists.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? One of the sub-plots involves the potential spreading of the “wild” polio virus, almost eradicated in this country, throughout a religious sect that doesn’t embrace vaccines. With the recent flu epidemic, including the deaths at least twenty children, this is a timely topic.

If you haven’t read book one of the series, Living in Harmony, is on sale for Kindles for 2.24. Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Living-Harmony-Beginnings-Series-ebook/dp/B008G5FLHS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1361391903&sr=1-1&keywords=living+in+harmony

And don’t forget to hop over to Lillian Duncan’s blog next:

here’s her link:  http://www.lillian-duncan.com/

Writers block, part two

Good Monday morning, readers. And what a lovely morning it is in Ohio. The sun is shining, the temps are above freezing, and the snow is melting. All three make me one happy woman. Last week’s and this week’s postings are mainly aimed at fellow writers. But if you’re a reader, I’ve got some good news for you, too. Living in Harmony, Lime Award winner for 2012 for Excellence in Amish fiction is on sale for E-readers, including Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble.com, iTunes, and Kobo. The price is 2.99 or less. Links are at the bottom. This price should last until Feb. 18th as far as I know. Thanks, Harvest House, for reducing the price of book one, to celebrate the release of book two! This week Cindy Elliott has posted her review of book two, Love Comes to Paradise. You could win a free copy if you drop by Cindy’s blog and leave a comment.  One lucky commenter will win a free copy of Love Comes to Paradise next week. Here’s the link: http://www.cindyelliottfiction.com/love-comes-to-paradise-by-mary-ellis-book-giveaway

Last Monday I started talking about “writer’s block” or more specifically, some things to try if your creative energy seems to have dried up. The second problem we sometimes experience is the haven’t-I-said-all-this-before-syndrome. We’ve got our story; we’ve got our multi-dimensional characters. But we’re trotting out the same old metaphors and tired verbs. It’s time to get away to someone else’s creative work that’s not in the genre you write. Read a book by a writer whose work you admire to see how they craft a story. No time to read a full novel? Go to a movie, again one with a screenplay by someone you love. Sit back, sip your soda, munch your popcorn and enjoy. I’ve been known to utter things like: What a delightful black moment, much to my husband’s dismay. The key is getting away from yourself. Then when you return to your work-in-progress, the well will be primed with fresh creative waters. Happy writing.

Happy Valentine’s Day–don’t forget your sweethearts! Don’t forget Lent starts on Wednesday. And if you haven’t seen the movie, Lincoln, go tomorrow! It’s Honest Abe’s birthday!! Have a great week, readers and writers…Mary

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008G5FLHS/ref=as_li_tf_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B008G5FLHS&linkCode=as2&tag=harvesthousep-20

Barnes and Noble: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=lhOFjTQPVzI&subid=&offerid=261457.1&type=10&tmpid=8432&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.barnesandnoble.com%252Fw%252Fliving-in-harmony-mary-ellis%252F1107956927%253Fean%253D9780736942867%2526itm%253D1%2526usri%253D9780736942867

Apple iBookstore/iTunes: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=lhOFjTQPVzI&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=3909&RD_PARM1=https%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fbook%2Fliving-in-harmony%2Fid547296303%3Fmt%3D11

·Kobo: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=lhOFjTQPVzI&subid=&offerid=258185.1&type=10&tmpid=9310&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kobobooks.com%2Febook%2FLiving-in-Harmony%2Fbook-iDbQramJ60eqFrgxpFYbQQ%2Fpage1.html

ChristianBook.com: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?isbn=9780736942867&event=AFF&p=1169188

Happy New Year and here’s our winner of Amy’s book

Happy New Year, readers, and I hope 2013 is off to a good start for you and yours.

Here’s our winner of Saving Gideon by Amy Lilliard….Johnda Scott! Johnda…you’re the next winner on Home Thoughts of a great piece of Amish fiction. I will be contacting you privately.

I am pleased to announced book three of the New Beginnings series is done and being sent to my editor at Harvest House today! I am tickled pink to get it done on time. A Little Bit of Charm will be released this summer.

Book two of the series, Love Comes to Paradise, has received it’s first editorial review from Romatic Times Magazine. They gave it 4-stars! Here’s the capsule version: The second New Beginnings novel is a sweet, adorable love story with credible characters who want a fresh start and to leave painful memories behind them. They encounter unexpected obstacles and rely on their faith to help them break through those obstacles. Ellis gives the Amish culture the respect it deserves, and her research on the Amish way of life shines in each of her stories. Thanks so much, RT magazine.

And finally, book one of the series, Living in Harmony, is still on sale in e-book version at all e-distributors like christianbook.com, amazon.com, b&n.com and i-Tunes. It’s under 3 bucks but today is the last day if you haven’t read this one yet.  On Monday, I start something fresh which will take me back to my beloved Wayne and Holmes Counties, Ohio. In the meantime, enjoy these fresh first days of a new year.    Mary

Thanksgiving away from home

Greetings readers from the Golden Isles of Georgia!

It feels so strange to celebrate Thanksgiving far from home. We’re seeing palmetto and cypress trees, and live oaks shrouded with Spanish moss, instead of bare maples and black walnuts. Yesterday workers were stringing Christmas lights on palms trees. Do you know how odd that looks to someone who’s spent her whole life in northern Ohio? We’ve spent Thanksgivings in the past with parents, siblings, cousins and good friends along with their extended families. This year my husband and I will dine surrounded by strangers in the land of Georgia Bulldog fans. (luv that Uga!) On the beach this morning, we were the only ones wearing Ohio State sweatshirts. But it will be perfectly fine! Everyone is so friendly  here that we already feel right at home. Southern hospitality is not a myth! Whoever said home is where the heart is wasn’t kidding. Ken and I will be together. And in our hearts we’ll have all the people we’ve spent Thanksgiving in the past, both living and dead. I hope I don’t sound too maudlin but I am so thankful for everyone–friends, family, and dear readers who’ve dropped me a line about one of my books. You have touched our lives–thank you! And I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings.

Now if I can interrupt this program for a commercial….my publisher, Harvest House, is offering two of my books on sale starting tomorrow. A Widow’s Hope and Sarah’s Christmas Miracle.  From November 22-26 they will be at $2.99/each through ebook distributors—this includes Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, and the Sony Reader from distributor websites (Amazon, CBD.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc.).  A Widow’s Hope was nominated for a Carol Award in 2010 and Sarah’s Christmas Miracle has been my best-selling title to date.

So if you’ve missed these, now’s the chance to get them for your e-reader on sale. I believe CBD is also throwing in free shipping on some orders. In the meantime…have a lovely Thanksgiving and….don’t eat too much!